Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/657

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

ment. A cow-boy's fitness consists of quickness of sight and dexterity of hand. The savage depends upon skill in hunting and success in war. Fitness may reside in the longest purse, the lowest cunning, or the basest treachery, according to environment. The very fact that the possessor of wealth absorbs the profits of discovery, of invention, and of handicraft is sufficient reason to demand an inquiry as to what legislation has given us so distorted an environment.

The forces required for the industrial age are, first, capital, and, second, as in every other progressive step, an extension of trust or confidence; or, to use another form of expression, first, the individual forces, in which are found aggressive action or energy, thrift and prudence, all of which are implied in capital, but in such characters are often found wanting the true sense of justice—hence strong individuality may exist and. still be distrusted and itself distrusting; second, the social forces, which are permissive, fair, honest, and just, all of which are essential to confidence—but these may all exist without energy, thrift, and prudence, which are implied in the possession of capital. Co-operation, then, is dependent upon a union of the social virtues which reside in confidence, and those personal morals which are typified in capital. Had these qualities been developed in the same individual, no laws would have been necessary to encourage combinations of capital to enter wider fields of production. The incentive to action is the expected reward, and in this case the inducement could •be found in the large profits which combinations made possible.

If, then, at the beginning of the present century, the rich returns promised to those who would co-operate were fairly discerned, and in spite of such discernment men failed to enter into co-operative action, it is evident that moral and not material growth was essential to the true progress of the race, and any law looking to the stimulation of material agencies could not but impair and weaken the moral forces of development.

The fact that men of wealth would not combine for the carrying on of great projects which promised enormous profits, is evidence that they lacked confidence in each other, and to their minds treachery would surely follow trust. Upon the other hand, we find the artisans and mechanics then, as now, bound by the closest ties of fraternal friendship, born of mutual dependence and mutual trust; but they were wanting in those individual elements of character typified in the possession of capital: hence, so far as industrial pursuits were concerned, their trust and social qualities were without avail for want of money to make their combined efforts effective. We thus find that the rich men of that time, although able, were unwilling to combine, while the mechanics were perfectly willing, but unable for want of means. It must be plain to